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The PowerBI Desktop

With Power BI now generally available, many new features and capabilities of Power BI Desktop (known as Power BI Designer in the Preview) are ready to experience. These include major updates to open source visuals, the Power BI Android app, and authoring enhancements.

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PowerBI Desktop is a powerful new visual data exploration and interactive reporting tool available at PowerBI.com. It provides a free-form canvas for drag-and-drop exploration of your data and an extensive library of interactive visualizations, while streamlining report creation and publishing to the Power BI service. The Power BI Desktop has been enhanced to include:

  • New visualizations including matrix, area, waterfall, and donut charts.
  • New visualization formatting such as color setting, titles, labels, and legends.
  • New data source support has also been extended to include Zendesk, Intuit Quickbooks Online, AppFigures, GitHub, Twilio, and SweetIQ.
  • Direct connection to SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models for data exploration.


Other features

The full list of updates Microsoft has rolled out since preview includes:

  • Globally available and localized to 44 languages
  • New visuals – Tree Map, Combo Chart, Funnel, Gauges, Area Map, Waterfall, Donut, Area Chart, Matrix and others.
  • Significantly enhanced Power BI Desktop (renamed from Designer)
  • Native touch optimized mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows
  • Rich control over visual coloring, including conditional formatting in Reports
  • Visual formatting and customization  in Reports (Title, Background Color, Legend, Data Labels, and X/Y axis for Cartesian charts)
  • Support for Hyperlinks in Reports and report tables
  • Report publishing directly from Power BI Desktop to the PowerBI.com service
  • New styling, look and feel
  • Simple and categorized Get Data Experience
  • A dozen ISVs delivered content packs for Power BI, providing rich, out-of-the-box reports and dashboards for a variety of popular business services (Acumatica, appFigures, Google Analytics, MailChimp, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, QuickBooks Online, SQL Server Database Auditing, SweetIQ, Twilio, UserVoice, Visual Studio Online)
  • Four direct query sources enabling users to build Power BI reports and dashboards without the need to move data (Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, SQL Server Analysis Services, Spark on Azure HDInsight)
  • Easy import of CSV files
  • Support for connecting and refreshing from on-Premises data sources
  • Enhanced data modeling in Power BI Desktop (Calculated Columns, Data Categorization, Smart DAX Formula Editor, 12 new DAX functions)
  • Enhanced data transformation and mashup capabilities in Power BI Desktop with ten new transformation functions
  • Direct report exploration over Analysis Services tabular model from Power BI Desktop
  • Building and publishing Organizational content packs
  • Power BI Groups to enable collaboration on a jointly owned set of datasets, reports and dashboards
  • Browser rendered Excel reports in Power BI
  • Power BI REST API
  • Support for real time dashboards over massive data streams through Azure Stream Analytics
  • Open source Power BI visualization stack to enable Developers to starting building custom visuals
  • Developer samples and test bed for getting started quickly using the REST API
  • New community forum site at community.powerbi.com

Declutter for a cleaner Inbox using Clutter

Microsoft has added an awesome new feature in O365 Exchange Online that helps filter your low-priority email—saving time for your most important messages. Microsoft calls it Clutter.


Clutter looks at what you've done in the past to determine the messages you're most likely to ignore. It then moves those messages to a folder called Clutter. Just keep using email as usual and Clutter will learn which messages aren't important to you.


From time to time, Clutter might get it wrong. You can move the messages we've incorrectly identified as clutter to your inbox, and Clutter will take notice.


Your privacy is extremely important to Microsoft. So, they remove any personally identifiable information from the data it uses to make the feature better.


And if you find Clutter isn't for you, you can turn it off any time.

Continuum and Window 10 Phones

Microsoft has a lofty vision for Windows 10 - one operating system core for all devices called OneCore. One of the keys to making that vision a reality for smartphones is a software feature called Continuum. With Continuum for phones, Microsoft believes any phone can be your PC. Microsoft aims to turn Windows 10 phones into full-blown PCs when they’re connected to PCs. Also, with Windows 10 phones, the devices will perform similarly to a traditional PC when they’re connected to an external monitor, along with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

Continuum is a software tool that will aid Windows 10 in detecting what type of device a user is on and help the operating system configure itself accordingly. It is integral for Surface and other convertible tablets that double as laptops. For instance, Continuum will be able to know when you're using Windows 10 with a mouse and keyboard attachment and when you've switched to a touch interface with finger- and pen-based inputs.

Microsoft’s universal apps use the same basic code base across devices and scale to fit the screen they’re being used on. Continuum is Microsoft's solution for shifting among various form factors.

When a Windows Phone is plugged into a PC monitor, a PowerPoint app is treated like a PC app because it is in fact the same code that one would see for PowerPoint on a PC. When numerous tablet apps are opened, Continuum would switch them to PC-style apps when the device is docked. Even desktop-centric stuff will work just fine. Seamless copying and pasting between mobile-centric apps, and yes, even the legendary ALT-TAB are available now. Continuum for Phones changes the interface on the screen it's connected to and gives you extra tools on the handset as well. Microsoft calls it a "PC-like experience".

Windows 10's Mail app running on a Windows Phone connected to an external monitor, using Continuum.

When you first connect your phone to a keyboard and screen using the new Connect button in the Action Center (which Microsoft also refers to as 'docking'), a notification at the top of your phone screen asks if you want to use the phone as a trackpad to control the cursor on the other screen - that's an app that gives you an experience very like controlling an Xbox with the SmartGlass app on your phone. (It helps to turn the phone sideways, so it looks like a trackpad, and to put it down in front of the keyboard). Or you can keep using the handset with the usual phone interface. Apps you launch by touching the phone screen stay on the phone screen - so you could project PowerPoint for a presentation but keep your email and personal text messages off the big screen. There will be a gesture to move an app from the phone screen to the big screen and back.

If what you're running is a web application from the Windows Store, it will give you a different interface if it uses responsive design. But if it's an Android app packaged for Windows 10 for Phones (or an iOS app that the developer hasn't added extra features to), you'll just get the standard phone app interface, only bigger.

Soon, one can rely solely on a smartphone for their computing needs.

Microsoft says that Windows 10 would launch late July in 190 countries and 111 languages. Windows 10 is showcased as a simpler, more modern OS that seamlessly ties together desktops, laptops and smartphones. Microsoft calls it not just another release of Windows "but a new generation of Windows built for an era for more personal computing, from Raspberry Pi to the holographic computer, where the mobility of the experience is what matters, not the mobility of the device."

Cut costs on third-party comunication apps - Use Skype for Business

One of our customers was struggling to cut down costs on communication which at one point shot up to unmanageable levels. While they were already subscribers to O365 plans that included Skype for Business, their users were ignorant of the capabilities of Skype for Business and so they kept using the traditional applications that came to them at an added cost. I showcased the features of Skype for business that contained more than what their traditional and costly applications offered. Now they are looking forward to a lot of savings as Skype for Business is their current app of choice for communication.

Here are some of the various productivity features that might make Skype for Business the first choice for internal as well as external communication:

Presence and app integration

  1. Show your presence and availability to others in the team, your department and the whole enterprise from any device from anywhere – just sign into Skype for Business in your Laptop or Desktop or Lync 2013 app in your mobile devices (iPad, Android tabs, Windows phone/ iPhone / Android phone.

  2. You can move your status to “Do not disturb” so that others may know you are busy – they can’t even ping you in Skype for Business when you are in Do not disturb status.

  3. When you start a mail or reply to a mail, stop and think twice – you can connect with the respective persons through Skype for business if they are online and are available. Click on the person’s name from the To box and start a conversation. The Subject line of the mail (if any) will automatically become the title of the conversation window.

  4. You can do a lot in the Chat window to minimize the number of mails exchanged – all the texts exchanged are saved in the Conversation history folder of your mailbox in Outlook.

Ad hoc Meetings

  1. You can add people with just a Skype id to your contacts list. They don’t have to subscribers to Office 365 services.

  2. You can create a federation with other client / customer Business enterprises (that have Office 365 subscription) at the admin level if you frequently communicate with them. (Kindly contact IT dept. for this). This will enable seamless communication between you and them.

  3. Start a chat with anybody in your Skype for Business contact list by just double clicking on the id and clicking on the Balloon icon.

  4. If you want to include one or more persons into an already open conversation window, click the Plus icon on the top right corner of the window  and search for the respective person from the contact list. You can also drag that person’s id from the Skype for Business window to the conversation window. Make sure he is available and inform him first before bringing him in.

  5. Click on the Phone receiver icon to connect with the participants through audio conferencing. Make sure you have a good headphones and a mic to have a real good audio conferencing experience. Your smart phone’s hands-free will suffice.

  6. Click on the Video Camera icon to connect with the participants through HD video conferencing.

  7. You can share your screen (desktop, one or more open windows/programs, White Board) or run a PowerPoint presentation by clicking the More option from the Monitor icon.

  8. Requesting for control, giving control and taking back control of the desktops and screens is possible during such meetings.

  9. Except for the text exchanges, nothing else of this ad hoc meeting is recorded.

Scheduled Meetings / Webinars

  1. You can schedule an online meeting by

    1. Clicking on the New Items option of the Outlook window and choosing the Skype Meeting option

    2. Opening a new appointment window from outlook calendar and clicking on the Skype meeting option.

  2. A “Join Skype meeting” link is generated on the notes area which will be required by the meeting attendees to join the online meeting

  3. This meeting request can be sent to the invitees irrespective of whether they have an O365  subscription / Skype id or not

  4. Attendees with a Skype for Business subscription will have a Skype window open during the meeting. Others who join from the meeting link will have a browser opened to attend the meeting. (Think of Remote interviews and On boarding of new recruits)

  5. Attendees can join the meeting from wherever they are  using any device that is audio and video enabled and has a connection to the internet.

  6. Up to 250 attendees can be accommodated in scheduled meeting

  7. This meeting can be recorded in its entirety – chat, audio, video and screen shares - and shared with the participants and those who missed it later on by posting it in SharePoint. External attendees cannot record the meeting, request/give/take control of the shared desktop.

  8. A Poll can be floated during the meeting to gauge the interest of the attendees and to gather their opinion